Due to the need for live engagement, the Emerging Leaders Program will be deferred until the 2021-2022 season.

The League of American Orchestras’ flagship Emerging Leaders Program offers a powerful curriculum to cultivate and strengthen the capabilities of high-potential orchestra professionals. Open to administrative managers, orchestra musicians, and conductors, the Emerging Leaders Program seeks individuals who bring the imagination, drive, and commitment to grow as leaders in their own orchestras and to serve as champions for the field in the decades to come. Designed to cultivate effective and adaptive leaders in all parts of an orchestral organization, the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) develops the participants’ individual leadership capabilities regardless of role or position. This eight-month program offers focused one-to-one coaching, mentoring, in-depth seminars led by leadership experts, site visits with leaders and institutions from outside the orchestra field, and the opportunity to develop and present a capstone project in conjunction with the League’s National Conference.

With a faculty of leadership experts and active leaders from in and outside the field, the program addresses three themes:

Fostering a Vibrant Orchestra - Understanding and assessing organizational culture and developing the foundational knowledge to be able to build a thriving and effective organization with a healthy, diverse, and inclusive culture.

Taking Responsibility for Personal Development - Building reflective practice as a means of increasing self-awareness and self-management, in ways that sustain a career of increasing responsibility, influence, and professional growth in the orchestra field.

Leading with a Unified Vision - Developing a unifying strategic direction, working across traditional boundaries to bring people together in support of shared purpose.

The Emerging Leaders Program is guided by renowned leadership expert John McCann as the lead faculty and facilitator. One-to-one coaching is provided throughout the course by leadership development specialist Mary Parish. Additional faculty—including Ama Codjoe, arts and social justice educator and guest speakers from inside and outside the orchestra field—provide ELP participants with diverse perspectives and multifaceted learning experience.

2019-2020 Program Fees

  • Participant fee: $750
  • Orchestra fee:

    Groups 1-2


    Groups 3-4


    Groups 5-6


    Groups 7-8,




Ama Codjoe
is the former director of the DreamYard Art Center in the South Bronx where she taught and directed arts and social justice programming for young people as well as professional development for educators and administrators. She co-created and -developed the Social Justice Pedagogy Team and Learning Community at DreamYard, two professional development series aimed at establishing important tenets of social justice education, creating shared language and values across programs, and examining the relationship between anti-oppression theory and practice. Currently, she is a consultant for DreamYard Project and continues to support teaching artists, administrators, and Executive Directors with new, organization-wide initiatives. Ama has conducted racial justice and social justice workshops for Groundswell Mural Arts Project, Cleveland Arts and Education Consortium, Pratt Institute, New York University, The Met Museum, Queen’s Museum, Community MusicWorks, Bard Graduate Center, and numerous other educator, arts, and parent groups. She is a core faculty member of the National Guild for Community Arts Education Leadership Institute (CAELI), was the Project Manager and Lead Facilitator for Equity in the Panel Process—a national collective of grantmakers and funders pursuing racial equity in grantmaking—and recently served as the Visiting Assistant Professor of Social Justice and Inclusion at The New School. She earned her BA from Brown University and MFA from NYU’s Creative Writing Program.


John McCann has more than 30 years of experience as an educator, facilitator, and consultant. His expertise is in leadership education, strategy development, and innovation.

John has worked with more than 300 of the nation’s leading arts, cultural and community institutions including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Boys and Girls Club of America, Contemporary Art Museum/St. Louis, Dance/USA, Farmer Foodshare, Maryland State Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival, and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. He has facilitated significant mergers in the arts and culture field including the Tribeca Film Institute and Renew Media; and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company and Dance Theatre Workshop to form a new entity, New York Live Arts.

He is co-author of the Board Excellence Handbook, published by the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations; Jomandi: People Gathered Together in Celebration (FEDAPT, 1995), and Beyond Survival, Devising Strategies in an Uncertain World and Leadership as Creativity, both published by the National Endowment for the Arts.

McCann designed and now teaches Creating a Learning Organization, Team Learning, and The Leader as Facilitator for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). He is co-founder and currently a board member of EmcArts, a nonprofit social enterprise for learning and innovation in the arts, and also serves on the board of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice at Duke University.

Mary Parish
has worked with over 200 different organizations in both the public and private sectors. She focuses on creating practical strategies for developing leadership and effectiveness at all levels within the organization. Mary’s work has three channels: coaching individuals and teams to reach their highest potential; training design and delivery on topics such as strengthening interpersonal communication skills, developing emotional intelligence, and managing different personality types; and facilitating groups to work together more effectively, successfully navigate organizational transitions, and move their mission forward.

People who have worked with Mary say her deep listening and questioning skills open people to possibilities that may have seemed out of their reach. Mary approaches her work with depth, humor, and practicality that gives people specific steps to take to increase their effectiveness in their organization. At Michigan State University, Mary received a B.A. in television and radio—as one of only two women in her class—and later earned an M.A. in communication arts.

Emerging Leaders Program Class of 2019-20



Karina Bharne
Executive Director
Symphony Tacoma




Robin Freeman
Director of Public Relations
San Francisco Symphony


JT Kane
Dean of Visiting Faculty &
Orchestra Manager
New World Symphony




Giuliano Kornberg
Chief Development Officer
Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera


Rachel Lappen
Senior Director of Development 
Cleveland Orchestra


Monica Meyer

Vice President of Marketing, Sales, and Public Relations

Virginia Symphony Orchestra



Brian Prechtl

Baltimore Symphony Orchestra



Andrew Roitstein
Director of Education and Community Engagement 

Orchestra of St. Luke's

              Barron Viela

Ignacio Barrón Viela

Executive Director 
Billings Symphony Orchestra 
& Chorale




Sarah Whitling
Manager of Strategic Initiatives

Dallas Symphony Orchestra



Leah Wilson-Velasco

Walla Walla Symphony


Michelle Zwi
Associate Personnel Manager

The Philadelphia Orchestra

Read the press announcement here.

The Emerging Leaders Program is made possible by generous grants from American Express, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Questions? Contact Amanda Díaz at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo credits: Karina Bharne: Susan Newsom; Robin Freeman: David Kim; JT Kane: Siggi Bachmann; Giuliano Kornberg: Charles Vincent McDonald; Photo courtesy of Rachel Lappen; Monica Meyer: David Uhrin; Brian Prechtl: Anna Sykes; Andrew Roitstein: Jacob Coronado; Ignacio Barrón Viela: USC Marshall School of Business; Sarah Whitling: Sylvia Elzafon; Leah Wilson-Velasco: Ashley Shaw; Michelle Zwi: Carissa Livingston